From Team Building to Team Bonding

Teams that are “built” may work effectively — understanding and complying with up- and down-stream requirements and responding to customer expectations — in a broad-based spirit of cooperation.

But teams that are “bonded” kick it up another notch. They’re the ones whose members have internalized the complete process, who have a shared and visceral vision of success, and who know and care deeply about the customer, organization, and each other.

Team-bonding occurs when people decide together, look forward together, and accomplish together.

Decide together: Nothing brings people together more powerfully than shared risk. Having joint skin in the game as a result of the team putting itself on the line with a decision of their choosing creates a common focus, a sense of empathy across the group, and an experience of cohesion that trumps the most elegant team-building exercise.

Look forward together: A shared vision of a better tomorrow can be inspiring and bring people together, but this goes beyond mere ‘happy talk.’ Focusing on the future — and the feeling that one has control over one’s future — seems to be linked with meaningfulness. That meaning is magnified when it’s co-created within the context of a team. And shared meaning is a powerful human bond.

Accomplish together: Working together. Sweating together. Worrying together. Making things happen together. There’s little that creates long-term human connections more than shared accomplishment. The process itself, as well as the (sometimes warm) memories it generates, contributes to trust, rapport, and ease among individuals. Crossing a scary business abyss and coming out on the other side with real and lasting value added to the organization and its customers…. that’s the stuff of authentic and sustainable bonding.

Summing-up: Your team might well benefit from a little fun time together away from the office…. but if you’re looking for genuine and sustainable results, don’t settle for mere team-building; support the joint decision making, visioning, and accomplishment that leads to genuine team-bonding.

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